Turf Glossary

Turf Glossary

So you can know what they’re talking about

Sometimes it may seem that turf management professionals are speaking a foreign language, especially for those first starting out in the industry.  An understanding of commonly used terms will help and so we’ve created this glossary with definitions of lingo you may hear on the job.  We’ll periodically add new terms so check back for updates.

A GLossary

Active Ingredient (AI) – The component of a chemical that controls the target weed or pest.

Aeration – The process of removing soil cores to help reduce compacted soil and allow oxygen, nutrients and water to reach into the ground.

Annual – A plant which completes their life cycle in one growing season.

B Glossary

Bentgrass– Type of fine bladed perennial grass that grows in thick, has a fine texture and is popular for golf course greens in cool climates.

Biennial – Plants that complete their life cycles in two years.


Fescue seed – A perennial, narrow leaved grass used on golf courses.  It is drought and shade tolerant.

Fungicide – A product used to kill fungi.


Herbicide – A product used to kill weeds.

Hydroseeding – Method of applying a slurry mixture of grass seed, mulch and fertilizer at one time.


Insecticide – A product used to kill insects.  Some fertilizer blends also contain components to destroy insects.


Leaching – The process by which substances such as fertilizers and chemicals are washed out of the soil by rainfall or irrigation.


Nematicide – A product used to kill nematode worms.

Nematode – A microscopic worm that feeds on the roots of plants and turfgrass causing decay and rot.

Node – The part of a plant stem where buds arise and new leaves grow.

Non-selective herbicide – A herbicide that kills all plants and grass.


Pathogen – A bacteria, virus or organism that causes a disease.

Perennial – A plant which comes back season after season.

Pesticide – A product that kills pests like weeds, insects or diseases.  Pesticides include fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and nematicides.

Plant Growth Regulator (PGR) – Products in this class modify the physiological processes in plants and are used to foster faster development or restrict the growth of target plants.  In the turf industry, they are chemicals which are often used to slow the growth of grass.

Poa – According to the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, Poa is the class of all bluegrasses.  Pratensis is the species name for Kentucky bluegrass.  Poa annua is annual bluegrass.  There is also Poa trivialis (rough bluegrass) and Poa compressa (Canada bluegrass).

Post-emergent – Chemical treatment that is applied after weeds have appeared to try and eliminate them.  Some fertilizer blends contain components for post emergent control of weeds.

Pre-emergent – Chemical treatment used to prevent weeds from growing before they appear.  Some fertilizer blends contain components for pre-emergent control of weeds.

Pythium blight – A destructive disease that can quickly wipe out turfgrass and most often occurs in hot, humid conditions.


Rhizome – A plant stem that grows horizontally underground and can produce new roots out of their nodes.


Selective herbicide – A herbicide that kills specific weeds or plants without destroying others.

Snow Mold – A type of fungal disease that damages or kills grass under snow cover late in winter and becomes visible when the snow melts.

Surfactant – A compound which reduces the surface tension between water and plant material or between two liquids.  Wetting agents are classified as surfactants.


Thatch – A layer of dead grass tissue, roots and stems that builds up over time between the grass above the soil surface and the roots below.  If it becomes too thick it’s detrimental as it blocks oxygen, nutrients and water from reaching plant roots.

Topdressing – A sand or blended soil mixture applied to turf to level the surface and help eliminate thatch.  Topdressing holds moisture and heat to help break down the thatch layer.

Transpiration – Evaporation of water from a plant though its leaves.


Wetting Agent – A chemical that helps reduce the surface tension of water increasing its ability to spread out over the soil and soak in.



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